Pensions Weekly Update – 29 May 2024

May 2024
Region: Europe

Here is our weekly summary of key legal and regulatory developments relevant to occupational pension schemes that you might have missed, with links for further information.

  • The news is dominated by the announcement of the general election, which will take place on 4 July 2024. This will slow the progress of pensions developments that rely on the parliamentary process. We await the election manifestos, which will confirm the details of each party’s pensions policy, although there have already been some general announcements about keeping the triple lock (and more) on state pensions.
  • In a keynote speech, delivered at Professional Pensions Live, Nausicaa Delfas, chief executive of The Pensions Regulator (TPR), set out TPR’s priorities, which include a commitment to drive value for money in defined contribution schemes and secure the future of defined benefit (DB) schemes. TPR plans to publish guidance later this year on alternatives to buyout for DB schemes. Ms. Delfas also stressed the need for trustees to focus on data quality and administration in the run up to pensions dashboards deadlines. “It can’t be right that with the [dashboards] connection dates approaching, there are still some schemes that are not measuring their data or trying hard to improve it … Failure to meet the deadlines is not an option. That is why we will be engaging hundreds of schemes asking them to account for how they are measuring and improving their data and will be taking action where trustees are failing to meet our expectations.”
  • In our weekly update of 24 April, we noted that the Work and Pensions Committee (WPC) had published a letter to Pensions Minister, Paul Maynard. The WPC asked when the government would be holding roundtables to consider trustees’ fiduciary duties. The WPC has published a response from the pensions minister, in which the pensions minister confirms that roundtables to further the work on clarifying fiduciary duties will be held with stakeholders in May and June 2024. The pensions minister says that “we expect a good mix of law firms, financial institution networks, advisory bodies, non-profit/charity organisations, investment companies, and pension member organisations and schemes” to participate fully in the debate. The pensions minister also says that he understands that HM Treasury intends to consult on investment consultants being brought within the regulatory perimeter of the Financial Conduct Authority. He also confirms that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will be undertaking a review of the 2021 climate change and governance regulations during the second half of 2024.
  • Separately, the pensions minister has provided further information in relation to privacy and electronic communications regulations. Concerns had been raised by the industry that these regulations, which prohibit direct electronic marketing, might inadvertently catch pension schemes that are trying to engage members with their pension scheme provision. The pensions minister says that this issue is being considered.
  • Chief Operating Officer at The Pensions Ombudsman office, Robert Loughlin, has published a blog setting out some proposed changes to fine tune operating processes. These include requiring complainants to exhaust all formal complaints processes first (this had previously been an expectation rather than a requirement). Mr. Loughlin says that they will also be exploring whether certain types of complaints should be dealt with by other organisations and whether a de minimis threshold should apply. Interested parties are invited to attend a stakeholder forum on 27 June 2024.
  • In the latest in our series of blogs on adopting a proportionate approach to compliance with the general code of practice, associate Patricia Bailey addresses considerations for trustees of schemes approaching their “end game”. What parts of the effective system of governance should trustees prioritise? See our resource hub for more information on the general code.

If you would like specific advice on any of these issues or anything else, please contact a member of our Pensions team.

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